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  • Management & Business Excellence Consultancy

The trend of harnessing solar energy is around since the beginning of civilization. Sun had a mystical influence on humankind and there are several references of solar deities in ancient to medieval religions. The status of the sun still holds importance but it’s changed from a god to a source of clean energy.

History of Solar Power Utilization

Early Romans and Azteks used polished mirrors to light torches and heat the water in their bathhouses by focusing sunlight. Chinese civilization used mirrors for similar purposes since 20 AD. However, the trend of harnessing solar energy is getting popular in the modern age to produce electricity.

Solar energy promises several benefits, first, it’s clean, and second, its infrastructure is readily available across the globe nowadays. The photovoltaic effect was discovered by French scientist Edmond Becquerel, he found that electricity production increases when two metal electrodes dipped in a conductive solution are exposed to sunlight. Later in 1883, Charles Fritts developed the first photovoltaic cell from Selenium wafers.

Early adaptors of Solar energy in the modern era

The early adopters in solar technology were leading space agencies like NASA, powering their satellites via solar panels for continuous electric supply in outer space.

In 1973, the University of Delaware constructed the first building completely powered by solar energy. It used the integrated solar tiles rather than the conventional solar panels-the model currently Tesla’s Solar Roof product is using.

Vanguards in harvesting Solar Energy

The immense potential of solar energy is coming to the limelight with global leaders switching to solar energy. In 2010, Barrack Obama issued an order to install solar panels and solar water heaters to lead by example in environmental conservation. Currently, China is leading the way both in electricity production and solar panel manufacturing with an installed capacity above 200,000 MW per day. Solar water heaters and solar panels are ubiquitous across China.

Potential in Pakistan

The potential of solar energy in Pakistan is tremendous but needs exploitation. The geographical location of Pakistan makes it suitable to capitalize on the solar daily irradiance of the country.  The average solar irradiance in Pakistan is 5.3 kWh/m2/day. Solar radiation falling on the plainer coastal areas is higher and offers tremendous potential in electricity production and easing the import burden on the Pakistani economy.

Currently, Pakistan is producing 3800 MW of electricity from PV cells across the country: Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur being the country’s largest production facility with an installed capacity of 100MW. There is still huge potential to be tapped in to as the average monthly solar insolation in the Cholistan is 7 kWh/m2.

The solar irradiance map of Pakistan gives a detailed idea of tremendous potential hidden in terms of solar energy. The data is based on 12 years of data collection at various

It’s important to adopt clean energy to sustain growth

The urgency to adopt clean energy sources around the globe is rapidly increasing. Environmental agencies are taking robust initiatives to pursue clean energy in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. According to recent estimates, the energy needs of Pakistan are expected to surpass 49,000 Mega Watts by 2025.

The growing energy need is stretching the national grid. The recent energy additions in the national grid are less sustainable and pose a considerable threat to the already deteriorating environment. Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Hassan Chaudhary, highlighted the desires of the government to invest more in solar and other clean energy sources. The current market share of solar energy is only 4 percent and the government eyes to expand it to 20 percent by the year 2030.

The intent of the government has sparked the interest of many global players as there is a huge potential for investment in the solar energy industry of Pakistan.

Businesses across Pakistan shall start to pay attention to adopting solar energy to sustain substantial growth in the near future. The recent technological advancements and geographical location make the country an ideal location for manufacturing facilities.

Pakistan has emerged as a significant contributor to Belt and Road Initiative. The CPEC projects will establish Pakistan as a major player in global trade.  The energy demand is going to increase exponentially and clean energy will play an important role to keep the country’s carbon credit in check.

Energy independence can make the country a desirable place for economic activity. The major wage bill of the country comprises of the energy imports in the form of oil, gas, and other fossil fuels to satisfy the hunger. Reduction in import bill will ascertain the economic progress of the country.

Energy projections reveal that Pakistan’s energy demands will surge to 490000 MW by 2025. Current projections predict that the country will again suffer from power outages and shortfalls.  The textile sector of Pakistan has suffered in competition with Bangladesh, India, and China due to high power costs leading to overall high manufacturing costs and load shedding.

The future energy demands and current production facilities do not align. Businesses might suffer in the future as well unless swift actions are not taken presently. Investing in Solar energy in standalone projects might seem costly today but it will help a firm to be less dependent on costly electricity from the national grid.

Machine learning is the application of artificial intelligence that enables systems to learn, adapt, and improve user experience by self-programming. Such systems do not require extra-programming to adapt to users’ behaviour; instead, the program/software identifies the users’ patterns and actions and adjusts to it.

Machine learning is being implemented in businesses around the globe. Still, most companies are holding back to implement the technology to avoid investment and fear of failed execution.

Many large firms, including banks, medical companies, automotive industries, are trying hard to mature their deep-learning modules and ensure aggressive implementation of data-driven self-learning programs/software in their facilities. Recent leaps in AI must be taken seriously by business leaders and top-level executives if they want to adapt to rapidly changing business canvas. Waiting for the technology to mature before implementation can be disastrous and will take businesses out of the competition.

The Future

According to a report published by McKinsey Global Institute, 45% of workplace tasks can be automated using present-day technology. And 80% of these tasks are attributable to machine learning.

Utilizing machine learning can help businesses reduce costs on daily tasks like resource and inventory management. The automotive industry is aggressively trying to create, refine, and implement AI models to bring self-driving cars on the road. Elon Musk’s Tesla is already making leaps, Ford group is actively pursuing self-driving cars, and the winner in this race will have a significant market share in the near future. It is highly likely that other players will struggle and eventually fade out if they fail to accept, adopt, and implement the new technologies.

Richard Sutton, a professor of computer science at the University of Alberta, said,

“Understanding human-level AI will be a profound scientific achievement (and economic boon) and may well happen by 2030 (25% chance), or by 2040 (50% chance)—or never (10% chance).”

The change is imminent, and those who will wait for technology to mature will suffer heavily both in terms of quality of service, workplace efficiency, and revenue in the long run.

Andrew Ng, a Computer scientist and a global leader in AI and Machine learning, said:

It isn’t easy to think of a major industry that AI will not transform. This includes healthcare, education, transportation, retail, communications, and agriculture. There are surprisingly clear paths for AI to make a big difference in all of these industries.

The human imagination only bounds the scope of AI in future use. Leading Industries across the globe are terraforming their workplace environment to accommodate machine learning tools. AI will not take away jobs, but it will augment employees to do their job in a better manner.

The oil and gas industry suffers significant losses in unexpected maintenance tasks—applying machine learning tools in preventive maintenance, machinery inspection, field services, quality control, etc. can help save billions.

The Present

Current big players in artificial intelligence and machine learning are Google, Apple, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon. In one way or other, we deal with the AI algorithms on a daily basis. If you use a smartphone, then you must have had an encounter with Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa. These machine learning algorithms identify behaviour patterns, recognize speech and audio/visual data and mould their interactions as per the user’s behaviour.

Leading management and business consultants advise businesses to shift towards incorporating artificial intelligence in the workplace and business analytics.

AI tools are exceptionally efficient in activity tracking and monitoring. Facial recognition tools, coupled with a security system, can trigger alarms in case of hostile interventions.

Energy-efficient systems can recognize patterns to save energy, significantly reducing the energy bills of the company.

International Trends

Many personal assistant tools are making their way to smart devices like phones, tablets, and PCs capable of assisting just via voice command and recognizing behavioural patterns of the users. These AI can track, monitor, and predict user activity based on the available data.

Social media platforms are incorporating AI algorithms to show relevant ads and recommendations. A more commonly known AI application in social media is the posts that appear in the news feed of social media platforms.

Auto-pilot in an aeroplane is a self-aware system capable of taking in-flight decisions and sharing the burden of the pilot by controlling non-critical functions. Similar trends are now emerging in self-driving cars that can incorporate GPS data, cloud data from nearby vehicles and sensors data to deliver smoother, safer and reliable drives.

Evolution is an observable reality of the universe. Evolution applies to both life and living standards. The process of change is continuous, going on since the start of life. Human beings started in caves, and today housing complexes exist. The process of creation and recreation will keep modeling and remodeling the world.

Intellectual progress helped humans create systems of life including laws, financial dealings, transportation, and trade. The creative side of evolution saw human beings forsake old practices and develop novel ways, with the promise of changing lives for the better.

The first long-distance trade took place around 3000BC between the Indus valley civilization and Mesopotamia. The trade was based on the barter system, and with time, traders felt the need for a commodity that can be traded in place of goods and offers convenient logistics. They found the answer in Gold coins, easy to carry, and provided huge value. This was the beginning of money which then evolved into a modern form of notes and now into digital coins.

The modern world is moving towards a cashless future. One of the recent examples is the emergence of cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency was not well received initially but gained momentum when people started realizing its borderless nature. Several companies emerged in the cryptocurrency market dealing in crypto coins like Bitcoin, Libra, and Ethereum.

Introduction

Financial markets and institutions underwent a radical transformation in the past decade. Globalization, liberalization, and technological leaps in computer science in recent history have created a more connected world and eased and intensified trade. With the advent of high tech and sophisticated equipment, banks have shifted towards online banking.

Cross Border Transactions

The cost of physical, financial transactions is significantly higher than the price of online transactions. Cross-border transaction independence has further lowered the dependence on currency notes. A recent trend in increasing international remittances is due to the faster transaction processing time.

A recent global trend in freelancing has encouraged platforms like PayPal and Payoneer; these platforms enable users to send or receive money across countries. Sending and receiving money online has removed the gaps between buyers and sellers as well. Amazon, AliExpress, and Alibaba platforms are delivering international services.

The rise of credit and debit cards

Debit and credit cards have significantly lowered the need for carrying cash. Credit/debit cards are not only convenient but safer. Contactless technologies have further enhanced the payment experience and made the payments more manageable and faster.

The card technology has also made regular daily transactions or purchases. More and more services like airline tickets, bus fares, and utility bills are now payable via cards. Smartphones have further changed the way the banking sector worked. Now you don’t have to go to a bank branch to transfer money. You can do that with a few clicks on your smartphone via banking apps.

The value of money in the future

The cash and coins that are known to us are valued because humans have assigned them a specific value; otherwise, they are just a piece of paper or metal. The value changes now and then, and different forms of currency value and devalue in the international market are based on various factors. Zorpete G. (IEEE published researcher) in 2018 explained the importance of money as,

Today’s money is based on a set of mutual beliefs. This means that money has value only because society has assigned it a specific value. Some are of the opinion that money is the most important abstraction human beings have ever devised.

Modern generations have decreasing gravitation towards physical currency, and it is the indicator that in the next decade, completely cashless societies will start emerging. The trend is now eminent in Switzerland, where only 13% of transactions took place in cash, whereas 87% of the transactions took place via electronic medium. According to Riksbank, only 1% of GDP worth cash notes are in circulation in Sweden. The trend will only expand in the rest of Europe, where 80% of transactions are still cash-based.

CEO of Worldline Gilles Grapinet projected an outlook on Europe’s payments industry’s future in an interview with McKinsey.

I am convinced that our payment industry is on the right track and has a bright future. Our fundamental mission is to support the long-term transition, initiated decades ago towards economies with much less cash-based payments and more electronic payments.

Sweden seems to be the vanguard in removing cash denominations in circulation, Cecilia Kingsley (deputy governor) expects that the last cash notes in circulation will be handed back to Riksbank by 2030.

Such trends are also seen in other parts of the globe as South Korea aims to terminate the production of the coins till the end of 2020.

Even with the increase in electronic transactions, the number of cash denominations is increasing. According to a report by G4S, there are 500 billion currency notes in circulation around the globe making up around 9.6 percent of global GDP. The number was slightly low in 2011 when the currency notes were around 8.1% of world GDP. Inflation and demand for money are the keys to the rise in the recent increase in currency notes.

Conclusion

The cash won’t be disappearing from our lives anytime soon, but the cashless trend has already started and picked up the pace every year. Paper and coin-based money will be outdated and more secure, convenient, and reliable transaction sources will begin emerging.